Social Media: for the good of Mankind.

Maybe it’s the snow coming down like rain or the aspartame rotting out my brain, but I’ve really been having a hard time focusing lately (Simpson’s nod for those who might be wondering). For the past couple of days, I’ve found myself flitting from one post subject to the next—everything from the suicidal Pepsi Max campaign to how men and women respond to social media. But I’ve been unable to settle on a topic. However, there’s an issue (of sorts) that I haven’t been able to shake. I don’t know why. Perhaps there’s something in it that speaks to my own fears for someone I love very deeply (long story for another day). So permit me to state my case and then I’ll gladly swerve back to discussing the fun side of social media and the new Marketing Democracy.

A few days ago, I discovered this wee video drowning amongst the daily Twitter deluge (not that all the Twitter talk is a bad thing…just too much for me to process sometimes). The fact that I even found this gem speaks to the power of social media. But it also speaks to the power of art—in all its wondrous forms—to inform and cross barriers.

This video by Jason van Genderen, entitled Mankind is No Island, was the winner of Tropfest NY 2008 (a festival which, I have to admit, I had never heard of until I read the Twitter post). For those who aren’t aware, Tropfest is the world’s largest short film festival. Originating out of Australia, it has been part of New York’s TriBeca Film Festival since 2007 (if I’m “the last to know,” please don’t laugh!).

Now the point of this post is that I found myself truly moved by this 3 minute and 30 second film about the plight of the homeless and neglected. Shot in the streets of New York and Sydney entirely on a humble cell phone, Mankind is no Island says so much more than I think its primary message intended. It’s a brilliant little piece of storytelling that’s more poignant and authentic than your typical, wide-release film on the subject could ever pretend to be—with their shiny Hollywood budgets and glittering Hollywood faces dulled to a mere sheen.

This short demonstrates how technology has given “we the people” many opportunities to allow our individual voices to be heard—by bringing the power of expression TO the people. People who would never have the means to make public their views, beliefs and opinions. Enabling all of us to potentially touch millions of viewers we would never have been able to touch otherwise (and get recognition for it).

However, the irony is that the subject matter of this film will probably never get to see this work of “everyman” art. There’s no YouTube when you’re homeless. No Facebook. No Twitter. There is only survival. And that’s where social acts such as Mankind is no Island will hopefully help to bring these lost souls back into the fold. By bringing awareness to a wider audience that will find their own ways, online and off, to help save those that can be saved. 

Phew! Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I leave you with one question: when technology and social media are supposedly bringing us “closer together”, what becomes of those who live off the grid—by choice or by chance?

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Margaret.

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6 Responses to Social Media: for the good of Mankind.

  1. Eric Lee says:

    Great Blog post. I am going to bookmark and read more often. I love the Blog template if you need any assistance customizing it let me know!

  2. […] over at bcadweblog wrote about this remarkable and poignant piece of short film making using a cell phone camera. […]

  3. ludwig says:

    And the flip side of one particular coin can be..isn’t this kinda like exploitation? Did the producers of the movie pay the homeless people involved for their participation?

    And the flip side of another coin is..with so many people making so many little movies, how do you get people to weed through all the crap out there to stop and care to watch it? There’s just too much out there to filter through and at some point, people are going to do exactly what you brought up at the end..they’re going to disconnect, because they just can’t be bothered anymore. Somebody has to act as a filter..wether that be a corporate giant that sets a standard or a network of like minded people talking about media they have been exposed to. But good luck finding it if one were to just jump into the media pool all by their lonesome.

  4. bcadgroup says:

    Hey there Ludwig. Thanks for the comment!

    I suppose one could look at the film as exploitation. I have no idea whether the homeless people involved received any compensation beyond the possibility of greater awareness. But really…aren’t most cause related films (including those with actual budgets) exploitive? And what’s the likelihood that the subjects are receiving any kind of financial compensation? Because then you have the possibility of conflict of interest, do you not? If the subjects receive any kind of substantial payment, how can you be certain of the truth in their words, actions if they’re making money (kind of like reality TV 😉

    And as for the issue regarding quantity vs quality of films on the web, I agree. It’s a lot to filter through. In this case, Mankind is no Island received acclaim in a reputable film festival (admittedly, one that I wasn’t familiar with, but then again, I’m sure that there are numerous festivals with quality work that I’ve probably never heard of).

    There’s definitely a lot of white noise on the web and a lot of material that appeals to the lowest common denominator. But the fact is, with the advent of affordable technology, it still provides opportunities for those with true talent to find an audience in a new way without being blocked at every avenue by cost restrictions. And even though they may have to fight through a lot of the crap, it’s still better than having no opportunity at all.

    Margaret.

  5. simon says:

    Hey Marge: didn’t mean to steal your thunder, but this very discerning chap was very moved. http://anguswhines.typepad.com/angus_whines/2008/12/island.html. He’s a fun blogger you might enjoy his stuff

  6. David A says:

    Social stories for the good of man kind?

    It’s simple. Storytelling is broken online. We’ve fixed it.

    Here are some of the highlights:

    Heekya is the Wikpedia of Stories, a social storytelling platform that is changing the way consumers create, share, and discover stories. Free. Fun. Easy. 60 seconds. See it here: http://heekya.com/preview.php
    What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) drag and drop story editor. Import all media (photo, video, text, and audio) from third party services (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.)
    Users grab and embed Heekya story widget across social networks (Facebook, MySpace, et. al) blogs (wordpress, blogger, twitter) personal websites and via e-mail and instant message.
    Ability to re-mix and mashup other stories, retelling them from a consumers own vantage point, that will keep user engagement levels high and attract more traffic virally, as people share and re-share stories.

    Storytelling is at the core of human existence. We’re building Heekya to unlock powerful stories of people all over the world and empower them to share their story with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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